International Women in Engineering Day 2020

NMITE (New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering), in Hereford, is a revolutionary approach to engineering education in the UK.

To mark International Women in Engineering Day 2020, we spoke to some of NMITE's leading educators about their careers and how the centre can help increase diversity in the sector.

Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, President and Chief Executive, NMITE

Why did you choose to become an engineer?

Where I come from, Monterrey Mexico, engineering is part of life. It’s a very successful industrial and manufacturing city. So, studying engineering made sense if I wanted to get a job. It wasn’t until later on that I discovered that as an engineer, I could help shape and change lives and society for the better and it was then that I was truly hooked. It wasn’t any longer an individualistic need, I could be the change I wanted to see, too.

What do you still hope to achieve?

There is great turmoil in the world and we can make a great difference but we don’t have enough active engineers and I hope that through my work, one day we will be able to train and educate the type of engineer that understands societal needs and is able to adapt to those needs and make a positive change.

What change would you like to see in your time?

I’d like to see greater numbers of engineers, more diverse and gender balanced engineers enter the workforce. If 50% of the population are women, 50% of the engineers should be women. The same goes for other characteristics. Engineering should reflect the world we live in and make of ‘difference’ a strength.

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Professor Beverley Gibbs, NMITE

Why did you choose to become an engineer?

I began my engineering career at the age of 17, having had no idea of what engineering actually was. I wanted to do something hands-on, interesting and work with people where I would fit in, and I was lucky in that being a production engineer gave me that. I quickly came to love it, as I realised it gave me a way of understanding the world around me....how 'things' come to be, what they are made of, how they are made.

What do you still hope to achieve?

My passion is engineering education, so that's where my goals lie. I want to help develop engineering learning environments that allow a much wider range of students to achieve, thrive, and be equipped ready to be active citizens in the world.

What change would you like to see in your time?

I'm very concerned about the unethical and discriminatory uses of artificial intelligence. I would love to see real participation, transparency and effective governance around AI-driven applications with which humans interact.

Participation of women in engineering is still very patchy in the UK in particular, and there is a wide range of reasons for this that span education, work and society. We still have a lot of work to do to show that engineering is a creative subject that can lead to rewarding careers that make a difference to people's lives.

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Professor Pooh Ling, NMITE

Why did you choose to become an engineer?

I think the main reason I became an engineer was because I like to fix a problem. If I see an unfixed issue hanging around but I know something can be done, it bugs me! That’s why I decided to become a problem solver.

What do you still hope to achieve?

Bridge the gender gap or gender diversity issue in UK. Attract more females to choose engineering as their career.

What change would you like to see in your time?

More women choose to become an engineer or work in STEM. I don’t see many issues for women in engineering in Asia or in other parts of the world where I have worked as an engineer. But the percentage of women involved in STEM careers in the UK, especially in engineering is really worrying to me and we’ve got to do something about it. Creating awareness about the career opportunities in engineering and encouraging women are the first things we could do

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